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SPECIAL Out of Town/Adopt-a-Band Issue

This week Snowden is coming up to our little city all the way from Atlanta. Last time they were here they dazzled us with their complex prog-rock, beautifully tragic textured vocals and of course their Southern charm. We at Gothamist wanted to know more about this band (comprised of David Payne - guitar, bass // Chandler Rentz - drums, vocals // Corinne Lee - guitar, bass, keys // Jordan Jeffares - guitar, keys, vocals) so we asked Jordan and Dave some hard hitting questions...

Tell us about YOU

Let’s get this out of the way…where does the name Snowden originate?

Jordan: It’s the name of a character in one of my favorite parts of Joseph Heller’s book Catch 22. The band was originally called Snowden’s Secret, but it’s hard enough for people to say Snowden more less the longer name. 

You guys are from Georgia (correct me if I’m wrong), were you cognizant of the Elephant 6 collective growing up? What were your views on that whole scene?

Jordan: That whole thing hit a little before I acquired good taste in music. I heard Olivia Tremor Control for the first time about two months ago. The Athens thing is weird. They stay very secluded out there, very confined. I get the impression that they like the fact that they have nothing to do with Atlanta or the Atlanta music scene. Regardless, I long to be a part of a collective like that. It really requires a lot of pieces to fit right to have something like that. 

Dave: You are correct, we are from Georgia. I was aware of the Elephant 6 collective, but never really paid much attention to them, until I heard Neutral Milk Hotel. Enough has been said about them, but I also think the Circulatory System stuff is amazing, especially in headphones. I didn’t know much about that scene, other than what I read in the press. I think the whole idea of a collective of artists all working with each other on their own respective records is great though. It’s incestuous too, which we love… being from Georgia and all. 

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I hear a lot of Radiohead in your music, are they a major influence? Any others?

Jordan: Radiohead is a major influence. What I take from them, more than anything, is a desire to want to move forward musically. I dig the White Stripes but I hate the fact that they’re acclaimed for moving directly backwards. I’d rather suck and be moving forward than jump on the rock revival band wagon. Another big influence is Elliot Smith. Everyone should aspire to make music as powerful as that. Those doubled vocals!!!! 

Dave: Radiohead is one of many. For me personally, a few artists I go back to time & time again for inspiration would be… Elliott Smith, The Beatles, Explosions in the Sky, Iron & Wine, Beck, Nirvana & Bob Dylan. There’s so many more though. 

You just went through some changes with the band - new members, departing members - how has this changed Snowden as a whole? What can we look forward to from you guys in the future?

Jordan: The band has changed drastically in the last 2 months. It’s getting to the point where you have to start going on the road, and no matter how little you tour, it’s virtually impossible to have a 9-5 and do it. So, I gave the guys a now or never speech and now we are a four piece with a new drummer and bassist. The music hasn’t changed, but it gives two new perspectives to the music. How can we make this better, that part more powerful, etc.

We’re currently perusing a contract from and indie label that wants to manage us. They’re going to try to get us a booking agent so that we can tour more. There may be a 7” coming up with a new track on it. I’m also considering putting stripped down solo versions of some songs for free download on the web. I record a lot at home and I love coming home drunk and whispering songs while I play the piano.

The big thing is we’re stuck in a vacuum in Atlanta. There are almost no indie labels there and you must know indies personally to get picked up nine times out of ten. I’ve got the material almost completely done for the first album but it’s very hard to attract interest from indies when you’re not where they are.

Dave: I think the changes have made Snowden more agile & better suited for long sprints, The need for steroids is no longer there. We can make it through a set now, without having to rely on body enhancing drugs. There was a time when we didn’t think that was possible. Some lineup changes & about 100 or so drug tests really make a difference.

In the future, you can expect Snowden to most likely go more in the direction of theatrical experimentation of noise through improvisational jams, sorta like Frank Zappa… but not.

Okay, we’ll come see you guys at Rothko…but why should we go all the way over the Williamsburg Bridge to see you at Trash the very next night?

Jordan: Cause you live in Williamsburg, duh! Come on, I heard that the scene in that hood is blowing up! I’m really curious to see what one of the biggest scenes in the country is like. 

Dave: Because we’re playing all Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, TV on the Radio, & Walkmen covers that night. Maybe some Dashboard too. 

Tell us about US 

I’m sure there are differences in playing in NYC as opposed to Atlanta…what are they?

Jordan: Atlanta is small. When the Strokes play Atlanta, there are no fans to go to the other shows. It’s a small scene and you have to fight for the same 1000 or so hard core music fans. 

Dave: Atlanta has a few cool venues to play at, where as NYC has a bazillion. Also, all the cool labels, press, booking people, models, pizza joints, buildings, pigeons, & open bars seem to be in NYC. Go figure. 

Favorite & least favorite NYC venue to play at?

Jordan: Pianos, the guys there are so nice. Worst is Siberia, “where the hell is the sound guy? Where are the people? Where do we park?” 

Dave: Well, we’ve only played at a handful of places in NYC so far, but the least favorite for me was probably our very first one at Siberia. I’m not sure if the soundboard was even turned on that night. Pianos is the hands down favorite at this point. The sound is awesome, & the people there are really nice. 

Favorite & least favorite NYC venue to hear music at?

Jordan: I’ve only seen one show in NY and that was at Pianos last year. 

Dave: I’ve only heard music at the places we’ve played shows at in NYC. So, see answer to the previous question I guess. 

Are you looking forward to anything in particular this time around in the city?
Or, if you’d rather, just give some random comments on NYC…I mean, this is Gothamist you’re talking to and we’re under the impression everything revolves around our city.

Jordan: Everything does revolve around your city. I’m trying to get the band a record deal so that we can move up there and have one less thing to worry about. I’d be happy in Brooklyn. It’s all I think about. Rescue us from the Bible Belt. 

Dave: I’m really looking forward to our show in Williamsburg. I hear it’s like the coolest place on earth. Everyone is an artist & they all know each other. Everyone takes turns cooking dinner for each other one night of the week (sometimes it’s a potluck style meal). Creativity oozes out of the gutters. Unicorns dance around the streets. Rainbows explode out the windows. Recording contracts litter the streets, awaiting your signature. Guitar strings are free. & most importantly, the free open bar lasts 24/7. 

That is what it’s like…right Gothamist?

We need to know

If you could make up an ultimate supergroup, an all star team of musicians, a cornucopia of rock, who would be a part of that group?

Jordan: Johnny Greenwood on lead guitar and keys, DJ Shadow on drums, Elliot Smith on rhythm gtr and back up vocs, Jeff Buckley on ld vocs (with Nick Drake writing the lyrics), and Interpol’s Carlos D on bass. 

Dave: Scott Weiland, Slash, Duff McKagen, Matt Sorrum 

What was the last album you bought on the day it was released?

Jordan: Amnesiac by Radiohead 

Dave: Interpol – Antics (that’s out already, right?) 

Could a healthy human being be injured by a bit of cheese dropped off the observation deck at the empire state building?

Jordan: If they’re allergic to cheese, I suppose. 

Dave: No… but the empire state building could be severely injured by a huge gorilla. A gorilla, that in reality is just a gentle giant. A giant lovable gorilla, that’s just been misunderstood by all you heartless New Yorkers. Shame on you all. 

If you will, a brief justification of the ontological necessity of modern man's existential dilemma (in less than 10 words).

Jordan: Believe it or not, I do think about this. 

Dave: Billboard I saw… “Don’t make me come down there” 

Who would you most like to jam with?

Jordan: I hate jamming……but if it were an island, I’d jam with Cat Power. Snowden and Chan Marshall carved into a tree. Wait…I totally redirected this question. 

Dave: The Gilmore Girls.

2004_07_gothamistsnowcover.jpg•Listen to some songs

•See Snowden live:
7.20 @ Rothko for the Vicious Party
7.21 @ Trash

•Go to the after-afterparty